Entries in Peterborough Chamber (83)

Thursday
Sep222016

Peterborough Chamber instrumental in setting policy agenda

The parliament of business has wrapped up for another year.  The almost 350 delegates attending the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (#CCCAGM16) voted on the advocacy needs of the business community.   

Among the 70 resolutions debated were two from the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.   

The first resolution, Advancing Canada's Competitiveness using Short Line Rail, asks for a tax credit program and a separate funding program for capital reinvestment in short line rail.  Increasing the opportunity for short line rail companies to improve their rail track infrastructure helps to open up regional economies and increase the efficiency of rail traffic around Canada.  The Peterborough Chamber was pleased to see that it passed with 98.7% support.   

The second resolution from the Peterborough Chamber was called Restoring Canada's Innovation Competitiveness.  This resolution asks for an innovation stream tax credit to complement the Scientific
Research & Education Development (SR&ED) credits that currently exist.  The resolution also asked the government to simplify any processes and to create an innovation environment that encourages private sector innovation.  

“Thank you to the members of the Peterborough Chamber Policy Committee for helping to advance these two issues that will help our Canadian and Ontario economies grow,” says Jim Hill, member of the policy committee and incoming 2017 Chair of the Board, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.  “It was very exciting to see them receive the approval of the delegates.”

Also passed during the two-day policy debate sessions were resolutions on scaling up, broadband connectivity, marijuana distribution, increasing the efficiency of the regulatory review process around natural resource development, air travel competitiveness, and improving the Express Entry immigration system to recognize the value of graduating international students to our workforce.   

"The annual policy process is quite remarkable. Most of the recommendations to government come from chambers just like ours, from across the country. There is a lot of research that goes in to the typical policy resolution," says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. "The resolutions are then studied by Chamber committees across the country in order to make sure they are accurate and reflect all regions of Canada. The AGM provides a final opportunity for tweaking, wordsmithing, and collaboration, but more importantly for approval by the delegates."

The work of the delegates now becomes the work of the Canadian Chamber. With a strong mandate the CCC will now lobby the appropriate ministries within government.

"An approved policy resolution has the weight of the entire business community behind it and is a very powerful tool when lobbying the government on behalf of our members," adds Harrison.  "This is the core work of the Chamber network." 

For a full look at the policy decisions go to: peterboroughchamber.ca

Wednesday
Aug312016

#TeamPTBO ... What is it anyway?

A few months ago I wrote an article here that coined the phrase #TeamPTBO. Since then the Chamber has seen multiple references to the term, and indeed we’ve used it on a number of occasions, both in conversation and as a hashtag on social media. But what does it actually mean? Who’s on the team?

Read the original article

Let me say up front that I hesitate to attempt to define #TeamPTBO for fear of limiting a concept that should have no limits, but Sandra is on holidays and I need 500 words....

Let’s look at what is a significant local economic development infrastructure.  At the top of the heap is the Peterborough Economic Development (PED). PED is funded by both the City and County of Peterborough. They are the lead agency for economic development. Their areas of focus include tourism, agriculture, start-ups and entrepreneurs, the attraction and retention of businesses in general, the airport, the Trent Research and Innovation Park, Startup
Peterborough, the Business Advisory Centre, and more. They employ professional staff who work closely with clients who are trying to start a business or grow a business.

The list of other agencies that play either a supporting or unique role is very long, including: 

 

  • The Chamber of Commerce. Our list of services would fill this column, but our core work is captured in our vision statement – “Strengthening Business” through advocacy, mission-based events, strategic marketing opportunities, and business protection and savings programs. There is also the Kawartha Chamber and Tourism, the Millbrook Chamber, Havelock Chamber, and township business development committees of many shapes and sizes.
  • The Innovation Cluster. Carving out a unique space in technology- based, innovation-focused, entrepreneur-led business start-ups and growth.
  • The Kawartha Manufacturers Association. Supported by PED, the KMA is a volunteer-led group of manufacturers focussed on helping each other achieve world- class manufacturing.
  • The DBIA. Governed by geography, the DBIA is still focused on start-ups and growth for businesses within their jurisdiction, serving an events and marketing function as well as a lobby group for the Downtown core. Like the Chamber, there are several similar organizations in smaller communities in the Kawarthas.
  • Startup Peterborough. An entrepreneur-led organization designed to support budding and seasoned entrepreneurs, also supported by PED.
  • The list of agencies continues: Community Futures Peterborough, The Women’s Business Network, The Homebuilders Association, FastStart, The Federation of Agriculture and multiple commodity groups, The New Canadians Centre, the Peterborough Immigrant Partnership, Sustainable Peterborough, The Workforce Development Board, and more...
  • All levels of Government deserve special mention. City and County Councils contribute $1.6 million directly to PED and indirectly to many other agencies and initiatives, The Provincial and Federal Governments also contribute to much of the work being done. And it’s not just handing out cheques. 
  • Contributions from Government include everything from the Mayor sitting on a committee, to the municipal staff working with local business, to MP Monsef’s Peterborough Advisory Council on Jobs, to the very rules and regulations that govern how, where, and if, we do business. As Councillor Dan McWilliams said at PED’s Annual General Meeting earlier this year, “We are more than just funders”.

 

I assume you know where this is going... Obviously all of the above are the foundation of #TeamPTBO. Let’s not try too hard to define it. Let’s not use it to exclude anyone. Let’s use it as it was intended – a rallying cry for business retention and growth.

Where do you fit in? If you are still reading, then you are on #TeamPTBO too...

 

Wednesday
Aug242016

Grabbing the ear of government in 2016

Two days and 70 policy resolutions to debate; this is the task ahead of delegates at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Annual General Meeting next month.  It is through adopting, defeating or referring resolutions to the Board of Directors that the Chamber Network sets the policy agenda for the CCC.  

What is a policy resolution?  A policy resolution is a discussion paper that identifies an issue impacting the business community, presents the case for how the issue could be resolved and concludes by providing recommendations to government.  

The policy debates highlight the issues on the collective mind of businesses across the country and the end result is a script that the Canadian Chamber can use in its dialogue with the federal government. 

There are eight main areas of focus: finance and taxation, special issues, natural resources and environment, transportation and infrastructure, industry, international affairs, social policy, and human resources.   

For the most part these resolutions are written by chambers just like the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.  This year, our policy committee and board of directors submitted two policy resolutions: Advancing Canadian Competitiveness Using Shortline Rail (Transportation and Infrastructure) and Restoring Canada’s Innovation Competitiveness (Industry).  

In the rail resolution, the federal government is being asked to create a dedicated shortline capital funding program that is accessible to all shortline companies, and to establish a tax credit program to assist
shortline rail companies in making capital investments.    

The innovation resolution is asking the federal government to: 

  • Rename the SR&ED tax credit the Innovation Tax Credit and start it at 20% of eligible expenses
  • Simplify the process of the Innovation Tax Credit application, using the following as a base: improving the pre-claim project review service, simplifying the base on which the credits are calculated, and introducing incentives that encourage SME growth – so that Canadian companies of all sizes and across all industries can move forward with confidence to bring their innovation to market
  • Create an innovation environment that encourages private sector investment in R&D and technology across all industries focusing on the following factors for success: ease of use for businesses, consultation with the business community to ensure programs are in line with the real time needs of business, achieved and sustainable growth of participating businesses, export readiness, and help with operational scale-up.

Other resolutions of note include Addressing Barriers to Indigenous Participation in Canada’s Economy, Canada as a Global Leader in Venture Capital Financing, the Risks of Cyber Crime, Expanding Canada’s Export Capacity through Harmonizing Agri-Food Cross-Border Trade Regulations, and Improving the Express Entry System for 

International Student Graduates.   

Broader issues from pension reform to marijuana to infrastructure asset management to broadband to scaling up to recruiting talent will also be discussed.  

The goal of the delegates in debating and refining these recommendations is to provide clear direction to the Canadian Chamber as to the thoughts and needs of the Canadian business community, through the membership of chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country.

You can find the proposed 2016 resolutions on our website peterboroughchamber.ca/policy-report-cards--resolutions.html

Ontario Chamber Network role in policy process

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce policy debates are often lively as delegates debate issues that have different impacts across the country. 

In an effort to ensure that the Ontario perspective is not lost, a group of chambers and boards of trade review all of the resolutions to be discussed.  This allows the group to have a good understanding of the issues and to pass that information on to their volunteers attending the event.  It also allows for local Chambers to receive feedback on resolutions from members and present the case for support of their resolution to the group.  What we bring to the AGM is an informed group of delegates focussed on ensuring Ontario's voice is heard at the national level. 

This year's co-chairs of the caucus are Sandra Dueck from the Peterborough Chamber and Joyce Mankarios of the Sudbury Chamber.

Wednesday
Jul272016

Chamber highlights the business case for broadband 

Let’s talk about broadband and why we are calling on the province for more investment in this area.   

As technology continues to evolve broadband is an important piece of business infrastructure – similar to roads, bridges and electricity.  

“Local businesses in Peterborough and area are becoming increasingly dependent on internet access for their everyday business practices,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “High-speed internet access has become a necessity for doing business in today’s economy and it is critical that all regions across Ontario have access to this essential infrastructure.” 

While the Peterborough Chamber and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce acknowledge broadband investments made by the Government of Canada in the recent federal budget, internet access continues to be an issue in parts of Ontario. 

“EORN [Eastern Ontario Regional Network] fully supports the Chamber’s call for more provincial investment in high speed internet and mobile broadband services,” said Dave Burton, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “While we have made significant progress in expanding access to high speed services across Eastern Ontario over the past few years we know there are still gaps and capacity issues to be resolved.  We also know that our economic future is tied to the ability of our local businesses to grow their markets and customer base through the Internet.  Helping local small businesses prosper will strengthen not only our communities but help the Province as a whole prosper,” added Burton.

The Chamber Network has identified three key recommendations that have been presented to the
provincial government:

 

  1. Develop a broadband investment strategy that acknowledges that broadband is an essential infrastructure investment and creates space for continued private sector investment
  2. Build partnerships across all levels of government in order to leverage funding and respond to local need. 
  3. Benchmark Ontario’s internet speeds and access to ensure that we keep pace with other jurisdictions.

 

Universal access to high speed internet is becoming more important than ever for business and government operations, with government services increasingly shifting to online platforms. By working with the Peterborough and the Ontario business community, government can develop broadband policy that is responsive to existing and future needs. 

To date we have seen extensive private sector investment in fibre and a supportive government policy can help amplify the opportunity for further investment. 

For more information:

http://www.peterboroughchamber.ca/news--events-blog/july-21st-2016

Wednesday
Jul132016

We can't become battle weary over red tape

It’s one of, if not the most common gripe from the business community – red tape.  Business owners and chamber members run into it every day.  Red tape has the ability to turn what should be one of the more simple tasks into an administrative nightmare.  The impact is real in that we see productivity levels drop as time and money are spent wading through forms, phone calls and emails. 

In 2015, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce through the ‘Emerging Stronger’ policy document suggested the Government of Ontario undertake a Red Tape Challenge.   There was a similar exercise completed in Britain which resulted in 3,000 regulations being scrapped or amended.  The savings to businesses will be over 850 million pounds every single year. 

In 2016, the provincial government decided to take on a Red Tape Challenge.  The program will look at six industry areas over the span of two years.  At the end of March 2016, the comments were opened for the automotive manufacturing industry. Over the next three months, the government received over 180 comments and private messages on 36 different pieces of legislation. In the ‘Summary of Participation’ on the government’s Red Tape Challenge website the most comments were received on the following three pieces of legislation:

 

  • Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act
  • Employment Standards Act
  • Measuring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions

 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth recently announced that since 2011, burden reduction initiatives have saved businesses $122.3 million and 5.4 million hours.  The Ministry renewed its commitment to continuing its aggressive approach to cutting red tape to provide cost and time savings to business.   

The province’s 2016 Burden Reduction Report highlights three actions that have helped businesses over the past four years:

 

  • BizPal, an online tool that provides a customized list of all permits, licences and requirements needed to register a business in Ontario, saving entrepreneurs $27 million and 700,000 hours over four years.
  • Automating Clearance Certificates for construction contractors, saving contractors and their employers $13 million and 545,000 hours over five years.
  • Simplifying vendor reporting and registration under the Assistive Devices Program, saving businesses $2 million and 70,400 hours over one year.

 

“The acknowledgement by government of the negative impact of red tape on business is why it’s imperative for businesses to continually talk about these pieces of legislation that weigh down their processes and productivity,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is committed to bringing those concerns to elected officials.”

The next industry area the government will be seeking feedback on will be the food processing industry. The comment period starts August 2nd, 2016 with comments will be welcomed until September 30th, 2016.   We encourage all businesses in this sector to provide feedback to the government.  

The Red Tape Challenge website is: ontario.ca/page/red-tape-challenge  

If you don’t see your industry sector listed, please let us know by contacting the Chamber at
sandra@peterboroughchamber.ca or 705.748.9771.